Great Things

//Great Things

My Top 12 Games of 2015: #07 Starcraft II: LOTV

Much like the cold void of space, today I find myself once again writing with freezing joints. It is what it is, provides me with a lot of narrative juice [which unfortunately freezes in my sulci]. Unfortunately this is another game I’ve already reviewed. But unlike last time I’ve got three entire games I can talk about with this post! So why don’t we?! “Because you are cold and would rather just veg while playing Xenoblade Chronicles?” You are totally right, but sometimes I’ve got to force myself to finish something. If I went to #7 in a top 12 list I’d feel like a total dog sack. No offense to dogs, or their sacks, just how I’d feel.

Legacy of the Void was the final entry in the Starcraft II arc. I don’t know how many of you reading this are aware but I actually really like Chris Metzen. A few years back Blizzard had an ill fated magazine project that rose and fell like a Phoenix. And like the Phoenix it was a thing of beauty. I’m still saddened that they stopped publishing it. It got to four or five issues, each really well made with excellent interviews and content. They seemed to believe that they couldn’t compete with the internet but in my mind that magazine showed that print could still whip the socks off of digital. Every page was just dripping with quality. If I walked in on you rubbing a copy on your junk I’d probably not even think twice. “Yeah, it is pretty damn good.” I’d say. You’d awkwardly stare at me, frozen in place. Finally I’d break the tension. “Well when you are finished I’ll be ready for some LAN Starcraft.” You nod slowly, the full weight of the moment wearing you down more than it should. I understand what you’ve done and I won’t tell Dave. Well, maybe, ok I might tell him. This is pretty amusing.

But I’m digressing. The magazine was wonderful and in it was one of the most inspirational interviews I’ve ever read. It was an interview with Chris Metzen that talked to him about his time with Blizzard and how he felt about a great many things. I’m going to paraphrase but when asked about how he feels about his writing he said something like: “I write because I love creating. And for me, if someone loves my work, or hates my work, the outcome is roughly the same. Just knowing that they experienced it is enough to keep me going. That relationship is very fulfilling for me.” I’m tempted to pull out my copy and get the exact quote but you get the jist. That notion of not fearing how people will react to your work was incredibly enticing to me. I’m always an anxious mess, every moment of my day eats away at me a little more than the previous moment.

sc2

So back to the game. I actually really liked the story to Starcraft II. Metzen adores love stories. Most of his stories are adventures wrapped around the love of two or more characters. He’s not writing to amuse some pantywaist literary critics. You know the people, always telling you how they could “Fix” this genre or that. He writes because he loves writing and he writes what he loves to write. I admire that personally. I don’t need him to be the next Tolkien. I need him and the others writing for Blizzard to be confident and to have fun with what they do. Because when they have fun it bleeds through the end game. This is why their video sequences are such a joy to watch. Everyone at Blizzard is there to not just make a product, not just make a game, but to ultimately make something super nerdy and super fun. For all the skinny little shits like myself to fantasize about being something greater. To push back the Zerg, to stop the Cataclysm, or to defeat the Lords of Evil themselves.

The journey of Raynor as he tries to rescue Kerrigan is a delight for me. Especially considering of the two of them he’s easily the one that needs the rescuing. His love has become a potentially galaxy destroying superpowered creature. She has at her side basically the entirety of the Zerg. In many ways I’ve always seen Raynor as a strong man with a fragile heart. He’s not out to save Kerrigan because she needs saving but because he needs to save her. That journey is what keeps him moving. Much like for her the desire for revenge (and perhaps redemption). All along the way the Terrans feel more like secondary observers than actual participants and I love that. Humans just don’t seem to me like a faction that would really be anywhere near the front stage of an interstellar war. We do a lot of cool things but I feel like any kind of galactic interaction will find us on the lower end of the totem pole. And if we weren’t, if we truly were the top dogs, I don’t think we could handle that.

All three games are excellent in my opinion. The quality from start to finish is without question in my mind. Almost every mission is fun, a few of them are frustrating as fuck, but that doesn’t make them bad. They are challenging but still well designed. All of the cut scenes are great. The dialogue is either awesome, corny, or awesomely corny. In each case I can tell that people had a really good time making it and I’ve had a really good time experiencing it.

All together you can buy the entire series for something like 50 bucks. That’s crazy balls and one of the best non-sale deals available in 2015. Anyone with a passing interest in RTS games owes it to themselves to play Starcraft II. The unit selection in these games is just wonderful. The rock-paper-scissors mechanics throughout really mesh well and it’s fascinating just how balanced the game is. I can’t personally recommend the multiplayer because in my experience it doesn’t take long before you are up against people who could beat you using nothing but their kneecaps to press buttons. This is one of those games where people generally peak in their mid 20’s because the strain is just too much on any normal human being. But if you want to casually play with a buddy or two that’s probably fun.

The gimmicks for all three story arcs are cool. I love upgrading things, I love choices, and I love that there are all sorts of people to chat with between missions in all three stories. I’ve played a lot of RTS games that just phone it in. But Starcraft II really does go balls deep in a lot of ways.

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The biggest mistake in this closing game was the Archon Mode. Why, oh why, was it not for the entire Campaign? How amazing would it have been to play with another person along the Campaign in hard or brutal? What a waste. It’s only available in like 9 maps and they are fun but not THAT fun.

For me, the story as a whole is certainly complete. There is something about it that is very bittersweet. Some knowledge that I glossed over in the original trilogy that did ultimately make everything a little hollow. Hollow in the sense that you get when something you care about passes away. I know that sounds dramatic but that’s how I felt. It was the closing of a door. I sat there realizing that everything had culminated in the ultimate conclusion and that, at least for now, the tale was over. I know there will be story packs coming and whatnot but I don’t know if they can really top what they’ve done. But even if they don’t, in ten years time when Starcraft III comes out, I’ll be there and I’ll be playing it.

By | 2015-12-18T20:42:49+00:00 December 18th, 2015|Great Things, Reviews|Comments Off on My Top 12 Games of 2015: #07 Starcraft II: LOTV

My Top 12 Games of 2015: #09 Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD

This one is a little bit of a surprise! A lot of you don’t know but I absolutely hated this game as a kid. When it came out it was a sign to me that Final Fantasy was dead. Sometime after its release FF11 hit and that was some “MMO” that seemed like it was just using the numbers to pad things. It made more sense to me to call that “FFO”, but they didn’t. Anyways, if not for FF12 I’d have stopped paying attention to square altogether as a kid. I’m not sure if I can consider this an old game or a new game, so as far as spoilers go. I’m just going to say right now, obviously I like the game now. If you don’t want anything ruined for you turn back now. I won’t immediately start shitting out story elements but, assuming my fingers don’t freeze off, I’m probably going to in a bit.

Perhaps with age this game has become something better. I’ve not yet Platinumed this game but if I got bored for another week I could do so. I put a lot of time into it this time around, just…holy shit. So much time. I don’t know what it was about this time compared to my first time as a kid. Maybe it has been so long since I played 7 through 9 that I’m not longer stunned by the quality drop? Perhaps it was never there to begin with. I know I can almost stomache Tidus now. He’s still one of the most insufferable bastards in the entire series but less so for me now. I still find most of the cast interesting, Wakka being my true protagonist, and this time around I even liked Kimahri. I dunno why, he’s technically awful, but he grew on me. Something about his silent charm I guess.

Final Fantasy X has probably one of the worst leveling systems I’ve ever experienced. The Sphere Grid is a giant pile of dogshit in my opinion. Lemme preface most of what I’ll be complaining about, I get it, this isn’t objectively true, but holy shit. Goddamn do I hate it. If the Sphere Grid got taken out behind a barn and shot I’d not shed a single tear. It is the single biggest blight on this game. There are charities that would decline money if it was donated by the Sphere Grid. Support Groups have risen and fallen to help guide people through the hellish bullshit that is this god forsaken system. I hate it, I hate it so much. I never have any goddamn clue which of my characters is uber or not. How hard would it have been to have a simple “total spheres unlocked” counter for each character? That would have been roughly similar to a level counter. But no, someone at Square is literally Hitler. We all thought he died but really he hid out in Japan and waited all this time to put the Sphere Grid into the game. Thanks, Hitler.

You might think that if I hate literally the foundation of character growth that I must hate the game. But surprisingly no! Somehow this game manages to keep me very happy nearly from start to finish. There is one big exception, the legendary quest that requires I get 0:00:00 on the Chocobo Race was also made by Hitler. That was his evil redemption for telling Becky in accounting that she had left her coffee in the break room. He felt filthy for doing something nice and had to absolve his guiltless conscious. That aside though, great times. The story is pretty standard as far as JRPGs go. That is until it drops the sixth sense on your ass.

While you are seeing dead people the game also takes a turn into one of the most tired cliches imaginable. “Peace can only be found through death.” Diablo 3 recently did this with the Reapers of Souls expansion and I rolled my eyes there just as I did here. It’s incredibly stupid and something I could rant about for hours. Technically its not peace if everyone is dead, its a null state of being. It is neither true nor false. But! I forgive it for the terrible premise because I get to kill all the things that made up said premise. It’s like a story introducing a terrible arc, then introducing the author of said arc, then killing them in front of you (in the story). It’s cathartic.

The combat is pretty solid. Turn based with the option to make it live (that is, the moment you or the AI gets their ATB filled they act immediately). I prefer active play with the exception of areas with bombs. Those assholes are pretty good at wiping you. On the topic of assholes, this version of FFX introduces Shadow Aion (may have had a different name, I think Dark Aion). These assholes will basically surprise you and then proceed to one shot your party at all sorts of unpredictable locations on the map. Sure hope you didn’t do what I did and zone in on the game, not saving for hours. Because when you don’t realize the DA are in the game and Ixion descends upon you…boy howdy do…is that an experience.

Yojimbo makes short work of them and he’s so damn cool to me. I love everything about Yojimbo. His design, his moves, his dog. It’s all just so yummy. The Aion in general are pretty neat.

The music is just great in this game. Nobuo Uematsu is my musical spirit animal. I’m somewhat convinced he can do no wrong and I’ll be happy to ignore information to the contrary. The music never gets too loud to hear the audio, a problem I have with XCX, and it tends to fit the moment excellently. They help capture emotion in scenes that might not have otherwise been there. A certain laughing moment notwithstanding.

The whole world looks great too. I love the aesthetic and Spira is a place that, barring the murderous leviathan scouring life from the lands, I’d like to check out if it were real. It makes you want to go sailing. Blitzball is kinda neat, but the achievements related to it are a giant pile of dog turds. It’s not an awful game but it’s not something that I can recommend many people grind either. I did it to completion on the PS2 and apparently haven’t had it in me to complete it again.

What else…Well I mean. Even not considering X-2 I’d say this is a real good game. It’s technically great because here I am coming back to it many years later and playing it when plenty of newer options were available. And I mean…I really played it.

https://www.playstation.com/en-us/my/compare-game-trophies/

The trophies I’m missing at this point aren’t even hard, they are just shitty grinds. There is something about this game that really just works now that I’m older. It feels right. For all the things I hate, the things I like outshine them. X-2 is like a lovely extra. That’s another game that I didn’t get as a kid, even if I liked it more than X, and now it’s even better. X-2 is a less linear experience which makes it interesting but also might hurt it.

I like the cast, I’m totally cool with the girl band story. It once again has great music, a fun cast, good combat mechanics, and and acceptable story. I’ll admit that I can’t remember the leveling system at all currently. This must mean that it is way better than the Sphere Grid. Whatever it is, good on you Square for not doing that shit twice. If you only got X or X-2 I think I’d rank this a “Good” but the fact that you get >both< makes it Great. There is just so much to offer here. It's not the best FF title ever, probably not even top 5, but that doesn't mean that it is awful. I loathe comparing games of different genres to one another. So I'll simply say that of the title that it shares a family with and supersedes on this list, technically I'd probably say that XC3D is a better title. If I could hook up my 3DS to the television and play that game on there I think these two spots would be swapped. But as it stands, in the year of 2015, it was FFX that really took me by storm. I put down every other game when it released and just played it religiously. Not because I felt like I had to, but because I wanted to. That's more than I can say for a lot of games and I think it speaks well to just how good this game is. Fuck the Sphere Grid.

By | 2015-12-17T18:00:35+00:00 December 16th, 2015|Great Things, Reviews|Comments Off on My Top 12 Games of 2015: #09 Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD

My Top 12 Games of 2015: #10 Pillars of Eternity

Another cold night. My nose is running slightly and my joints creak, brittled by the chill. It seems appropriate then that I would be pining over Pillars of Eternity today. One of the few things that I’ve kickstarted and, like the rest, a project I have 0 regrets for backing. Pillars of Eternity harkens back to the days of Neverwinter or Baldur’s Gate. Games that gave you incredible customization options, deep conversations, and wonderful writing. Well, I’m told I was the one person that enjoyed the writing in the original Neverwinter, but that’s all that matters for my entertainment!

I apparently lost my game progress when I upgraded my Windows. So new character it is!

I apparently lost my game progress when I upgraded my Windows. So new character it is!

Pillars of Eternity starts you off with a pretty thick character customization section. You can pick your sex (yes please [still got the jokes, go me]), race, class, culture, and even a voice. Your stats are granular and harken back to ye olden times of DND. Back when games weren’t terrified of alienating people and presumed that you’d rise to the challenge of learning them. I decided for this run I’ll be playing as one of the Seraphim from my fantasy stories. Phoe is the Seraphim of Sound, a being whose presence is enough to rattle the very building blocks of your being apart. While they don’t actually have a sex I’ve always kind of envisioned this character as closer to feminine than masculine. Boom, got that down. The races are actually even more granular than you might think. Not only having you pick a supertype but also a subtype based on regions or other factors. Of the subtypes of “Godlike” I chose the Moon. Looking pretty slick! Next I chose Chanter, Chanters are basically bards. While you battle there is a series of songs you’ll sing through that have sometimes dramatic impacts on the battlefield. Get into the groove enough and you’ll be dropping some heavy tide turning spells.

I organized my stats to maximize the impact of my class, the game is kind enough to put a gold or silver star beside stats that are either VERY important or merely better than the rest. Culture was a bit of a tossup, and much like race it too has a subtype. I am a drifter, sound waits for nothing. And I picked an avatar that looked close to my character as well as a voice that fit what I envision her personality to be like.

In game the controls match up with isometric RPGs you’ve played before. Hotkeys to select your team members, click to move. And a variety of extra buttons to change the speed of the game, open up various menus, and all the other essentials of roleplaying. Your character icons also give you some really handy updates on important status changes for your characters.

Might want to get that checked out...

Might want to get that checked out…

You can actually play this game pretty actively with the each character doing their action the moment they are ready. I’ll be honest, I’m just not confident enough in myself to try and pull that shit off. So instead I went into the options and toggled a few of the “Auto pause” features. It’s pretty slick, you can set it to pause on damage, seeing enemies, or other “oh shit” moments that you might want to have a moment to mull over. In particular I highly recommend “auto pause on enemy noticing you”. It probably has a slightly different name.

This is another long game. I’ve not actually finished it in truth, which is a pattern you’ll catch with a lot of my list. But it’s not for lack of interest. This game grabbed me by the ghoulies almost immediately and it never truly let go. I love how bleak and hopeless a lot of the world feels. The aesthetics are spot on. Their environment artists did a wonderful job of capturing a brutally honest visual theme. Everything feels “hard” in a way that I can’t quite articulate. It gives me flashbacks to times when I’d make a tiny mistake and lose everything in a game.

Make no mistake, this game certainly hits a lot of nostalgic notes but it is also a great game in its own right. The combat is just delightful in my opinion. You can easily move between characters and queue up moves. If you’d rather just control your main character they have some AI controls that I’ve admittedly not done much with. The music in the game really works for me. I’ve never had the urge to turn it off and I don’t think I’ve ever even turned it down from the default settings. Some, but not all, of the story content is voice acted. This game didn’t have the bottomless wallets of other titles and that’s alright with me. Turns out I know how to read and I had a good time reading through everything I’ve found and everything characters have said.

Even in the time I played it I found a lot of side content and fun secrets. This game really does highlight just how good games can still be. It does little to caudle the player but it also provides ample difficulty options to allow both new interested game enthusiasts as well as old diehard Bloodborne demon soulers. I’m somewhere in the middle, probably closer to the new players than the balls deep hardcore users.

Pillars of Eternity is an absolutely delightful experience. I think if you have the slightest interest in isometric RPGs you should give it a look. Ultimately it DOES get overshadowed by Divinity: Original Sin, in my opinion, but I think they both fill a different visceral need for this genre. If I was a bigger tool I’d be reviewing the Enhanced Edition of that game instead, but I won’t. Let this be the short review for it, go buy it also.

I’ll probably fart up this line each time I talk about the rest of my 2015 games but this is a darn good game. As some folks know my ratings for games basically fall into one of five categories. Terrible games are games that offend me outright, bad games are games that just leave me feeling a bit worse off than before I played them, okay games are games I liked but didn’t really add or remove from my life, good games are games that are I quite like but might not go back and play once I’ve finished them, and finally Great games are games I routinely find myself reinstalling and playing again.

That isn’t to say they are the best things ever made, but they are good enough that a single pass doesn’t feel like enough for me. This squarely falls into that realm. I could probably play through it once every few years and have a good time doing so. With that out of the way, I give Pillars of Eternity the ole “Great” stamp of approval.

By | 2015-12-15T21:19:40+00:00 December 15th, 2015|Great Things, Reviews|Comments Off on My Top 12 Games of 2015: #10 Pillars of Eternity

My Top 12 Games of 2015: #11 Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

This is one of the more interesting games on my list. I haven’t actually finished it yet and there is a good reason for that. This game is huge! I haven’t played a portable game with this kind of girth in a very long time. It takes me back to the first time I played Pokemon Gold/Silver. I remember finishing up the main game and thinking “This is the biggest game I’ve ever played.” Then, I come to find out, the entire world from Red/Blue was in there. Holy cow! How is there so much game here! That moment came to me again while playing this. I’m awed sometimes by what people fit on things. I realize that micro SD cards are up into the hundreds of gigabytes (potentially terabytes) but it still floors me. Even in my young age I’m still old enough to remember using floppy discs to try and transfer Sim City 2000 from a friends house to mine.

For the record that plan didn’t work out.

XC (as I’ll be calling it because my hands are cold and I can’t type for shit today) has you playing as the hunky but adorable Shulk. Very early on in the game you can get the characters bathing suit outfits, it’s a delight. That said there is a “touching” moment in the beginning that gets kinda ruined when everyone is running around in their skivvies. I am digressing, the story has you playing as Shulk as a member of the “Homs”. This is the name for humans in this world, which itself takes place on literal gods. The creation story here isn’t just some pie in the sky bullshit, you are legitimately living atop one of the two gods of creation (as far as I can tell).

Who lives on the other god? Well, the Mechons naturally and they are giant assholes. Variably sized mechanical monstrosities that love eating Homs. Seriously, they gorge on people like its Thanksgiving every day. It’s a thing to behold and surprisingly brutal for a Nintendo Console Game. I have 0 complaints about that, mind. Fairly quickly into the game Shulk will get his signature sword, whose name you better not forget: The Monado.

But worry not! If you do forget they’ll say it. Roughly once every 4 words. “The Monado saved us, which is good, had they gotten the Monado, that Monado worked out! But it did. Monado.” It borders on parody throughout the game as Shulk is more likely to say Monado than he is the names of his friends or quest givers. The voice acting is slick as shit by the way! I love it. All the VA work is grand to me. I also really like the music and the sound effects. This game feels really top notch all around. The game systems can be a little confusing at times but that is equally rad to me. I love a game that makes me work for it. I get a little tingly just thinking about experiences like the first time I learned to do something in Dwarf Fortress. That moment of revelation is intellectually erotic to me. Braingasms as they say.

The cast is really cool so far. I’ve met Reyn, Fiora, Sharla, Dunban, Melia, and Riki. I’m uncertain if this is the entire cast but I’ll talk a short bit about them now. I won’t be going into any spoilers. This is simply my take on them. Reyn is rad, I really like him. He’s got my kind of humor, he’s a bit of a dumb headed smartass. It’s awesome, I feel like more RPGs need a character as fun to be around as Reyn. Fiora exists, I guess, she hasn’t really stuck around in my mind too much. She’s not bad, she’s like your everyday average person. I can’t criticize her for being realistic. Sharla, jesus. I almost came to hate her because of her brother. He’s the biggest pain in the ass to ever be in an RPG. He’s the NPC you always want to die but keeps coming back. Maybe someday he will die in this game, maybe the writers will give me that moment. Sharla unfortunately shares his scent, I see her and remember him. Dunban is basically Sephiroth but if he were a good guy. Maybe more accurately he’s Auron from FFX. Cool dude. Melia is pretty neat, I like her quite a lot. She has that mystique about her that really works for me. I’ve begun using her more than Sharla. And finally. Riki.

Riki is my Heropon. The cinnamon on my roll. He’s so great, I added him to my team the moment I could and I haven’t looked back. I don’t care if he’s strategically not viable. Riki all the way. I’ll be finishing this game with him dropping all sorts of debuffs on our foes.

riki

Look at him! Jesus H. Tabbernackle! I love him.

The gameplay is really interesting. This is the kind of active system I don’t mind. It is still technically turn based but your turns are based around your moves more than your actual character. It hits a lot of the same notes that FF12 did for me, and those of you who have seem me rambling about games know that I really like FF12. You can have up to 8 skills that, in many cases, can combo up to give additional effects or damage. It’s a neat system and I really like trying to maximize my output with it. Additionally you auto attack as long as you are in range. This means that sometimes I can kinda AFK while my team takes care of stuff if I want to level while sorta mentally checking out. I appreciate that.

Also, the Monado has the most Monado powers of all Monados. Shulk is not “required” for your team in the literal sense, but the Monado busts so much ass that you wouldn’t want to avoid using him. I let the AI handle my friends (even though I could control them).

There is also a base building system in the game that is sorta rudimentary but still neat! I really like having an impact on the world around me in RPGs even if it is somewhat light. Also there is a booklet called the “Collectopedia” which hits some pretty deep rooted needs in my life. I love going from map to map to find the missing items from it. It’s basically a stampbook that also gives you lots of nice stuff if you complete it.

There are a shit ton of side quests. So much so that most people suggest you don’t do them all. It’ll, I’m told, crush your soul eventually. I haven’t hit that point yet but I can see where people might be coming from. Additionally the mobs in a zone can vary by tens of levels. This is pretty cool and makes it feel more alive. But it also means you might stumble into a really pissed off level 99 gonnafuckyourfaceasaurus when you meant to be farming level 5 pigchickens.

I want to point out “gonnafuckyourfaceasaurus” did not flag in my client as misspelled. Not joking. Guess that’s a word now.

I'm serious.

I’m serious.

Admittedly this game could end awful. Maybe the conclusion of this story will be a giant box of camel shit and I’ll walk away sad. But I really can’t see that being the case. After a few days of played hours I’m finding myself absolutely delighted by it. This is one of the best handheld experiences I’ve ever been lucky enough to have played. This is a tentative review, I may come back and edit this if the end of the game falls flat. But as of my current experience. I’d say this is a great game. It provides so much content for a mobile game that I keep waiting for it to remind me I owe it more money. The graphics are just fine, the controls never take away from the experience for me, the actual gameplay mechanics are solid, the enemies never really get boring, the major villains presented thus far have character, and so on and so forth.

It does little to offend and does quite a lot to impress. All that I really ask from games.

By | 2015-12-14T21:53:01+00:00 December 14th, 2015|Great Things, Reviews|Comments Off on My Top 12 Games of 2015: #11 Xenoblade Chronicles 3D

Reviews: Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void

I’ve been playing RTS games for about 20 years now. One of my first games was Warcraft I on the PC. You’d think after all this time that I’d be good at them. But you’d be wrong. I love them deeply but I’ve always been somewhat terrible at them. Starcraft II is no exception to this rule. I struggle on hard difficulty (but generally steamroll normal or casual mode), and Brutal might as well not exist for me. I appreciate though that Starcraft II allows that kind of malleability for me. Each mission has 4 different difficulties you can choose from. Casual, Normal, Hard, and Brutal. The further to the right you get the more unreasonable the handicaps between you and the AI grow. Each mission also has achievements which try to inspire you to play the level a little differently or even possibly learn something new about a unit or hero that you might have otherwise missed.

These can only be collected on normal or higher but it’s not so great a hurdle to be alienating. The general formula for RTS games, at least the ones I like, is that you build a base and send out units against your enemies. This base building has been stripped from a lot of modern RTS games and I find it absolutely awful. I’m genuinely glad that Starcraft did not go this same direction. I get the desire for everything to be fast and competitive, but there is some personality that is lost for me when I’m not actively defending a base of my own design.

The main campaign is respectfully long. 19 (or so) missions of varying length that take you across the journey of the Protoss as they try to defeat the dark god Amon. Without context this shouldn’t mean much to you but it at least should help set the stage for what is to come when you play the game. The story up to now is that the Protoss and the Zerg have been mutilated and manipulated to create a new hybrid strain, which I believe is always simply called the Hybrid. It’s a pain in the ass which takes the best characteristics from both factions. Naturally the Terrans are left on the side wishing they were cool enough to be a part of the Hybrid. We can’t all be winners, I suppose.

I've been on the internet long enough to know where this is going.

I’ve been on the internet long enough to know where this is going.

The story isn’t complex, as I’ve mentioned before, and it doesn’t need to be. The black and white nature of the conflict is actually becoming something of a rarity in our new “everything is gray” world of storytelling. I like both and seeing a mix in my gaming life is totally welcome. If for some reason you find yourself unmoved by the single player offerings then Starcraft II is still likely for you. There are a ton of different modes to play with friends, against friends, or strangers. The maps are generally pretty well balanced and enjoyable, the three races all have their benefits and their weaknesses, and the gameplay doesn’t ever really get stagnate.

Additionally they’ve got an arcade mode where you can play custom games built by the community. Folks have made RPGs, overhead shooters, and I believe I’ve even seen a board game on there. This is cool for both builders and players alike. Unfortunately the Archon mode that they advertised is only player vs. player which makes it pointless for me. I wanted to help teach my wife the game against the AI but am left only with co-op mode. It’s not terrible but it could have been much more productive as an Archon AI mode.

The actual “mission” system for co-op is a bit lacking. It includes a few maps from the main game that you can play with a friend. The problem is that on normal a lot of these missions are >way< too hard for a new player. It's a great way to overwhelm a fresh face and turn them away from the game entirely. I'd have preferred an archon mode for the campaign as well. These missing tidbits are almost painful for me as they would have provided me with an incredible experience to share with my wife. That said the game was still worth every penny. You can now grab the entire trilogy from their website for 60 dollars or so. Easily day's worth of enjoyment if you are playing nonstop. The multiplayer is vast and some of the best in the world. The single player is fun and diverse. You'll likely never find yourself board from beginning to end. Legacy of the Void stumbles in some places, mostly in the timidness with their implementation of good ideas. But everywhere else it performs excellently. Also the cut scenes are amazing. It appears that they did most of it without CGI and its just stellar. If it is CGI its in that weird uncanny valley where it looks like in game renderings. Either way, I liked it a lot. Great game, good times to be had. If you like RTS games you won't regret playing this at all. If you don't, well, it's not a very expensive series to get into. All three games are standalones but I feel like Starcraft II is best experienced in its entirety. Starcraft II is great, I still think it could have been even greater but those improvements are potentially only a patch away.

By | 2015-11-15T19:30:50+00:00 November 13th, 2015|Great Things, Reviews|1 Comment